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Genetic characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. from pet rodents indicate high zoonotic potential of pathogens from chinchillas

Chen, J., Wang, W., Lin, Y., Sun, L., Li, N., Guo, Y., Kvac, M., Ryan, U.ORCID: 0000-0003-2710-9324, Feng, Y. and Xiao, L. (2021) Genetic characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. from pet rodents indicate high zoonotic potential of pathogens from chinchillas. One Health, 13 . Art. 100269.

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Cryptosporidium spp. are common protozoan pathogens in mammals. With pet rodents being integrated into modern life, the potential roles of them in transmitting parasites to humans need assessments. In the present study, we examined the occurrence of Cryptosporidium spp. in pet rodents in Guangdong, south China. A total of 697 fecal samples were collected from 11 species of rodents in seven pet shops, one pet market and one farm. Cryptosporidium spp. were identified by PCR analysis of the small subunit rRNA gene. An overall infection rate of 36.9% (257/697) was obtained, with infection rates varying from 9.3% in chinchillas, 52.3% in guinea pigs, 57.1% in squirrels, to 68.4% in cricetid animals. Nine Cryptosporidium species and genotypes were identified, including C. wrairi (in 129 guinea pigs), C. andersoni (in 34 hamsters), C. homai (in 32 guinea pigs), Cryptosporidium hamster genotype (in 30 hamsters), C. ubiquitum (in 24 chinchillas and squirrels), C. parvum (in 2 chinchillas), Cryptosporidium ferret genotype (in 2 chipmunks), C. muris (in 1 hamster and 1 guinea pig), and Cryptosporidium chipmunk genotype V (in 1 chinchilla and 1 chipmunk). Sequence analysis of the 60 kDa glycoprotein gene identified three subtype families of C. ubiquitum, including family XIId in 15 chinchillas, XIIa in 5 chinchillas, and a new subtype family (XIIi) in 1 squirrel. The identification of C. parvum and C. ubiquitum in pet rodents suggests that these animals, especially chinchillas, could serve as reservoirs of human-pathogenic Cryptosporidium spp. Hygiene should be practiced in the rear and care of these animals, and One Health measures should be developed to reduce the occurrence of zoonotic Cryptosporidium infections due to contact with pet rodents.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
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